St John’s Pedre Close is a community garden in Brecon with a real focus on providing affordable produce for the local community and teaching and encouraging people to eat healthier. A grant from Oakdale Trust helped get the group started, and it operates at a community centre run under the umbrella of the Swansea and Brecon Diocesan Council for Social Responsibility, however they leave Alix Miller to run the project. Alix has a certificate in horticulture from the RHS, so can teach skills and share knowledge, and her aim is not only to provide produce but to encourage growing in general.
The heart of this group is feeding the community. They have an honesty table where they offer produce very cheaply to the local community as part of our commitment to tackle food poverty and the resulting health issues. Volunteers get to take produce home with them, and they also offer whatever they have available to clients of the foodbank that also operates from the centre. They run a healthy cookery club to educate people on how to eat healthy at home, and a weekly luncheon club for the elderly to come and socialise and get a good meal.
Benefits of their community garden in their local community
- It helps children to understand what food is and encourages them to enjoy food that they may not normally wish to eat
- If organic, it benefits the environment through reduction of harmful chemicals and also (recent studies show) carbon sequestration in the soil
- It means that people are more likely to eat certain items that they may avoid buying as they come in large bags in the supermarket, meaning that they go off before being used up – this is especially true for people who live alone or in small families – thereby widening their nutrient intake
- It encourages people to eat food that is really fresh and therefore more nutritious
- It cuts down on packaging and food miles thereby again benefitting the environment
- It provides healthy, outdoor exercise with plenty of stretching and muscle-building
- It gets kids out and about instead of on the computer
- It provides volunteering opportunities for young people seeking to complete their Welsh Baccalaureate or Duke of Edinburgh award
- It gets people involved in their community and helps people to break down social barriers - we are open to disabled people and those with learning difficulties as well as kids from public and state schools, foodbank clients, those recovering from illness or addiction and people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds etc.
The group are very committed to being as accessible as possible, and are hugely excited that they now have a ground level bed and raised bed at waist height - good for people with a bad back or in a wheelchair. They are also thrilled to have a small polytunnel to start off the seedlings and also for the tomatoes and French beans - it's an exposed site so this extra protection has been a game-changer.
Looking to the future, they have joined Garden Organic and will be growing their first heritage varieties of seeds – not only for interest but also to aid sustainability. However get their onions, garlic and potatoes from the local garden centre, Brecon Pet and Garden Centre Ltd who they have a good relationship with.
They are saving seeds for future use, and holding seed and seedling swap days at the centre to promote home production. They have their equipment in place now and their popularity is growing, so they are just eager to get the word out and be able to help as many people as possible!
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